An Economy of Grace

In October, after we celebrate World Communion Sunday, I’m moving into a series of sermons on stewardship. These few weeks are stewardship season for my church, and the theme verse is 2 Corinthians 9:8. Paul writes, “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.” (CEB) In that small verse, Paul provides an outline of a economy of grace that supports all of life.

The economy that we are most aware of is an economy of transaction: you give me something and I give you something. Many times, we carry that basic economic assumption over into our understanding of God. We give God something (for example, worship, time, service, money) and God gives us something (for example, forgiveness, answered prayer, blessings). But God’s economy is not an economy of transaction. It’s an economy of grace.

When it comes to giving our lives and resources away generously, I believe we have to start at a core understanding of God’s grace. If we don’t, giving becomes loaded with anxiety, fear, and false expectations. Three little phrases run in the back of our minds: “I’m not sure I can afford this. I hope I have enough. I hope it makes a difference.” These thoughts rob us of the joy of giving, and they undercut the basic purpose of giving. We give as an exercise of faith, as a response to God’s blessings. We give because God’s faithfulness frees us to give.

My sermon series this stewardship season is going to revolve around this small verse of 2nd Corinthians because in it Paul deals very quickly with the basic elements of healthy life stewardship and financial giving. The first part is the most important thing: God provides us with every blessing in abundance. Faithful (instead of fearful) stewardship flows from a sense of God’s never-ending grace and provision in our lives.
The second part of the verse addresses our anxiety about giving: “what if I don’t have enough?” This feeling is real, but the promise of God’s abundant provision is that there will always be enough. Giving generously grows our faith because it asks to face our fear and actively trust that God will always provide enough.
The last part of the verse is the purpose of our stewardship, to share in every good work. Giving opens us up toward one another and unites us together, multiplies our resources, and enables us to accomplish the good work that God calls us to do.
How would it change our daily lives, and our daily witness to others, if we began each day with this small affirmation: “God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace”?

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